word-iconWord’s infamous “Unable to Save: Disk Full or Too Many Files are Open” error apparently still hasn’t resolved , as of the latest version of Office 2008 (v12.1.5).

It popped up today at a clients office when one of the staff was attempting to save a .doc to her desktop. Saving to a new location produced the same result. So did trying to save it as a .docx file.

Fortunately, there’s a fairly painless work-around: save the file as a Rich Text Format (.rtf) document. Then close & re-launch Word & open the .rtf file & re-save it as a Word document. Unless you have some exotic formatting, everything should look identical.

It’s important to note that this is more of a bug then a genuine error & doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with having too many files open. And while it occurs most often when trying to save files to network shares, apparently local saves are not entirely exempt either.

Details on the causes of the error, as found on word.mvps.org, can be found below. It’s a bit old & focused on saving to servers but the general principles (& problems) seem to apply for local saves, too.

Here’s a  link to a short thread on the subject from Mactopia’s Office For Mac forums.

Can’t Save or Re-Save


The error message you see “Unable to Save: Disk Full or Too Many Files Are Open” is a generic “Sorry I am unable to save” message, and it can be caused by anything that prevents Word from obtaining an acknowledgement of completing its write to disk, including userID permissioning errors, failed network connections, more than about 9 documents open at once, inability to store or release its lock file on the server, or even the reason stated!

However, the cause we are most familiar with on the Mac is due to bugs in the transport between OS X and the file server. Apple and Microsoft introduced changes to overcome a security hole a few months ago, which caused the data stream between the client and server to be authenticated more strictly, and this has exposed errors which have been there forever.

The issue is with the way Word “streams” a file to or from storage. The problems are not exposed in other applications, because they do not attempt to open multiple connections with the file server.


One work-around that is partially successful is to set the Word>Preferences>Save to ensure that Fast Saves is OFF and Always Make Backup is ON. This doesn’t cure the problem, but on some kinds of servers, it raises the number of saves you get before you see the problem to around 60 saves, which is more than most users do on a single document.

When a user gets this error, they will find that if they attempt to save the document in RTF format to their local disk, they will usually succeed, thus preserving their work. (Italics are mine).

Until this bug is finally fixed, users can use Finder to copy their document from the server to their local disk, work on it there, then use Finder to copy it back again. Word must be quit, not just minimized, when you copy the document back to the server.  The bug won’t strike if both the file and its attached template are on a local drive.

Other than that, all you can do is keep your server and client patches up to the latest released levels and keep hoping: just like the rest of us.

The original Apple Macintosh 128k. Image courtesty of AppleInsider.com.

The original Apple Macintosh 128k. Image courtesty of Apple Insider.

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the launch of the Apple Macintosh – that iconic little beige box that has come to represent Apple more than any design but the candy-coloured iMacs.

The birthday is generating tons of press & loads of attention on the web & in print (but not so much at Apple, interestingly…). But while bloggers & other writers turn their attention to misty-eyed reminiscences of Apple’s design history or pondering what might happen with a Jobs-less Apple in the not-too-distant future; I think the most important aspect of this day goes largely unnoticed.

The Apple Macintosh 128k, released January 24, 1984, was the first mainstream computer to feature a mouse & a graphics-based user interface (GUI) consisting of windows, icons, & a desktop. Now, I’m not sure I can stress just how major a development this is so I’ll say it again: THE FIRST.

Up until this point computers were all black & green screens full of painfully awkward text. & while, as a sysadmin, I make entensive use of those awkward screens of text (in fact, I couldn’t imagine trying to do my job without them), the fact of the matter is that there is no way that personal computers would have gained the popularity & ubiquity that they now enjoy if all we had to work with were those screens of text.

The user interface made popular by the first Apple Macintosh defined how we see & use computers to this day. The interfaces of all major operating systems are based around the example set forth by Apple with the Macintosh back in 1984. Now I’m not saying they’re necessarily the best principles (carpal tunnel, anyone) but they are clearly one of the most important in the history of computing.

If you’re interested in other ways that Apple, their products, & their design have affected everyday life, check out Ted Landau’s article on MacFixIt, well worth the read.

In the meantime, no mention of the Apple Macintosh is complete without a reference to the classic, 1984 Superbowl commercial that launched it all…


MCX Lessons from Macworld

January 20, 2009

wgmManaging OS X, Greg Neagle’s OS X sysadmin blog, has a great PDF of slides from Greg’s Macworld presentation on MCX & managed preferences in OS X. If you’re involved in client management in any way on OS X, you should probably take a minute to check this out.

You can download the PDF direct from his blog here.

keychainThe Keychain Access utility in OS X is possibly one of the most helpful & most underrated applications in OS X. No one likes trying to remember passwords, much less having to type them in every time we visit a website or check our email. And thanks to Keychain Access, we don’t have to.

But what happens when you realize that you need to access that website from another computer, or someone else needs access to your wireless network but it’s been nearly a year & you have no idea what the password is anymore?

Here’s where Keychain Access comes to the rescue again. To dig up that long-forgotten password follow these four quick steps:

1. Open Keychain Access (located in /Applications/Utilities), and click Show Keychains if the keychain list is hidden.
2. Select your keychain from the list in the left-hand pane
3. Locate the entry associated with the password you need to recover & double-click it to open the Attributes pane.
4. Check the “Show Password” button & enter your password when requested.


Macworld – Mac = ???

January 4, 2009

By now it’s a well-known fact that this is Apple’s last year at the annual Macworld Expo & that Steve Jobs, Apple’s iconic CEO, will not be delivering the Keynote address. Speculation & rumor has flown since Apple’s announcemnet & some are calling the announcements the death knell for the headline-grabbing San Fransisco conference. Apple’s withdrawal from similar events has typically spelled their end (East coast Macworld, anyone?). The additional withdrawal of several of the Expo’s major exhibitors (including Adobe & Belkin) has more than a few people worried for the future of what is arguably the largest, & most influential, mac-product trade show.

This years event might not be the most fair for comparison, however. Sitting in the middle of a global economic downturn, & following on the heels of last year’s historic Expo which launched the iPhone 3G, it would hard for this year’s Macworld not to be disappointing – regardless of who presents what.

IDG, the owners of Macworld Expo, have promised to come back again for 2010, confident, I’m sure, that in the nearly 25 years since the event was first launched, it has helped to both build & support the mac user community & has developed into much more than a glorified marketing opportunity for Apple.

I certainly hope so.